On Tuesday 30 October 2007, the Legal Services Bill received Royal Assent.
The Act comes after an extensive consultation and follows recommendations in December 2004 by Sir David Clementi who carried out an independent review of the regulatory framework for legal services in England and Wales.
It will introduce the independent Office for Legal Complaints, which will establish a new independent ombudsman scheme for all consumer legal complaints.
Under the new Alternative Business Structures (ABS), lawyers and non-lawyers will be able to come together as a single business entity. The Act will also allow legal services firms to have up to 25 per non-lawyer partners in the near future, before the full ABS regulatory structure is implemented, and will allow different kinds of lawyers to form firms together in the near future.
A new Legal Services Board (LSB) will act as a single, independent and publicly accountable regulator. The chair of the Board will be a lay person and is expected to be appointed by February 2008.
There will also be new regulatory objectives for the regulation of legal services.
Legal Services Minister Bridget Prentice said:
"After the huge amount of work that's been put in, I'm extremely pleased to see these reforms becoming law. The Act will mean consumers get legal services that are fit for purpose, increasing confidence in the system as a whole."